The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion

By David B. Truman | Go to book overview

3
Groups and Government:
Introduction

GOVERNMENT, like all other social institutions, grows out of the relationships existing between man and man -- their character, their complexity, and the disturbances to which they are subject. Although it would be erroneous to assert that this observation is subject to historical verification, it can be supported by evidence of a different sort, but of equal value. Accounts of the so-called primitive societies report the emergence of differentiated institutions, resembling our governments in their basic functions, that include all family groups within a given territory. These appear as a result of a new kind of interaction among the persons involved or the increased frequency and persistence of a previously familiar but casual relationship. Examples of this sort would include group organization for warfare, whether for defense, pillage, or conquest. Warfare is by no means the exclusive source, however, for similar governmental institutions seem to have developed out of the necessity for ordering such relationships as those consequent upon a new technique of hunting or upon new sources of wealth.1 The most significant aspect of these data is that even in its nascent stages government functions to establish and maintain a measure of order in the relationships among groups for various purposes. What a particular government is under these circumstances, its "form" and its "methods," depends upon the character of the groups and the purposes it serves.

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1
See Chapple and Coon: Principles of Anthropology, chap. 14; and Thomas: Primitive Behavior, chap. 14.

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